With the school year winding down, students and teachers from coast-to-coast are letting out a huge sigh of relief. And whether you’re feeling relief because you’re retiring this June, found your misplaced cell phone, or got back a negative medical test result, the truth is scientists know surprisingly little about this common feeling.
Recently two researchers studied this emotion to help paint a clearer picture of it. But what exactly is relief — aside from that phew-inducing feeling as if a heavy weight has been lifted off your shoulders?
“Relief involves a contrast between a good feeling right now and a bad feeling that either never happened or has ended,” says lead author Kate Sweeny, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. “It’s that sense that things are better right now than they could otherwise be.”
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